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Oslo for modern art lovers

Even though Oslo is a small city with a population of only 600,000 people, it contains a lot of art; not only are there dozens of galleries, but also around 50 museums and exhibitions varying from Edvard Munch to Viking ships and the Nobel Peace Prize. However, modern art enthusiasts need not be disappointed either: with the opening of the Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo now boasts yet another top attraction.

Most museums have a relatively low admission price. Some museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Stenersen Museum, even offer free admission on Sundays. Instead of paying for museums separately, you can also buy the Oslo Pass (NOK 270 for 24 hours, around 33 euros), which gets you admission to dozens of museums. Do note that it’s worthwhile to plan your visit carefully, since most museums are only open from 12:00 to 4:00 pm and many of them are closed on Mondays.

Oslo: a city with a high art content
Oslo: a city with a high art content


Renzo Piano’s Astrup Fearnley Museum

Renzo Piano’s glass sailboat

After the Opera House, Oslo’s latest pride is the Astrup Fearnley Museum designed by Renzo Piano. This top architect designed Centre Pompidou in Paris and The Shard in London and directed the complete renovation of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. The 80-million-euro futuristic building sparkles on the Oslo Fjord, with its glass roof shaped like the sail of a three-master. The art is also sometimes very explicit, ranging from the campy Blow Job by Jeff Koons to the pre-operative genitals by Damien Hirst.

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Astrup Fearnley Museet, Strandpromenaden 2, Tjuvholmen, Oslo

The treasures of the immensely rich Stenersen

During his lifetime, the extremely wealthy Rolf Stenersen put together a prestigious collection of Norwegian modernistic, realistic and avant-garde art from 1850 to 1970. After his death, he donated 300 paintings and hundreds of sketches and drawings to the City of Oslo. These, together with 2 other private collections, can now be admired at the Stenersen Museum near Aker Brygge. The showpieces are paintings by Edvard Munch, Ludvig Karsten and Amaldus Nielsen.

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Art in the Stenersen Museum

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Stenersenmuseet, Munkedamsveien 15, Sentrum, Oslo

Museum of Modern Art in Oslo

Modern art in a bank vault

The rigid façade of the old bank building in no way reveals the small but lovely museum behind it, filled with post-war art. Outside, on the Bankplassen, a large work of art called Shaft by Richard Serra is slowly growing rusty, while the art nouveau interior of granite and marble is home to a rotating collection of 5,000 works and refreshing temporary exhibitions. There is also a conveniently arranged museum shop and nice café. The admission ticket is valid for another 3 National Museum locations.

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Museum of Modern Art (Museet for Samtidskunst), Bankplassen 4, Sentrum, Oslo

Photo credits

  • Renzo Piano’s Astrup Fearnley Museum: Nic Lehoux, Astrup Fearnley Museum
  • Art in the Stenersen Museum: Geir Arne Brevik, Flickr
  • Museum of Modern Art in Oslo: Morten Thorkildsen/Innovation Norway,